Yom Shabbat, 10 Tammuz 5778
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On the Days of Awe we ask God to “racheim aleinu” – to be merciful to us. This makes sense, as we come before God in our most vulnerable state, asking for forgiveness. It is easy to think about this request as something for us; we seek to gain mercy, to ease our minds regarding how we perhaps haven’t quite “measured up,” to be told “It’s okay.” So I find it interesting that we are asking God to be merciful to us specifically not for ourselves, but “l’ma’ancha,” [literally “for You”] for God’s own sake. This makes me think more about the act of forgiving, of granting mercy in the form of forgiveness to someone else. Although it can help the transgressor to feel better, ultimately the one who grants forgiveness most often gains the most emotional benefit. At this season, perhaps our focus is often on asking for forgiveness. This line of liturgy reminds me that I also need to focus on forgiving for my own sake, for the sake of the community, and for the sake of God.

--Abby Gostein